(From left) Mike Michalak, Kim Swisher, and Scott King volunteer as bell ringers for the Rhinelander Salvation Army. The ringers will be out at the Trig’s Riverwalk Centre, ShopKo, and Walmart from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Christmas.
11/27/2012 7:30:00 AM Salvation Army needs more bell ringers Many shifts still open
The familiar sound of ringing bells can be heard around Rhinelander as the volunteer bell ringers of the Salvation Army have taken up their posts for the holiday season.
The ringing might be slightly softer this year, however, as the Salvation Army is looking for more ringers.
"We've got over a hundred shifts filled, but there's still more than a hundred shifts open," Kim Swisher, spokesperson for the Salvation Army, said.
The schedule for bell ringers is broken up into two-hour shifts that run from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m, though people are welcome to stay later if they want to, as long as they let Swisher know in advance.
"Some people stay later, like we've got a group of kids that are ringing and they usually stay after 6 o'clock and we're OK with that as long as we know about it in advance," Swisher said.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult, which can make bell ringing a wonderful family affair.
"We have several families that have signed up to do it together, which really is wonderful," Swisher said. "It's a great way for families to spend time together while really doing some good for the community."
People can expect to see bell ringers out until Christmas, which gives people plenty of time to get out and volunteer.
"We are scheduled to ring until Christmas Eve but so far nobody has signed up for that day so I might pull Christmas Eve because so many people are going to be out of town," Swisher said.
Ringing bells is a great way to help the community, as over 85 percent of the money raised stays in Rhinelander.
"The bell ringing is our only way of raising money for the Rhinelander Salvation Army," Swisher said. "For every dollar that is raised, 86 cents stay in Rhinelander while the remaining 14 cents go to state and national efforts, such as helping with Hurricane Sandy. But those 86 cents stay right here and help provide assistance for housing, transportation, and healthcare here in the community."
Aside from needing more volunteers, Swisher said the donations have been coming in at a good pace so far, but there's still a long way to go.
"So far, so good on donations. We just started last Friday at Trig's and ShopKo and people have been very generous," Swisher said. "I think we've taken in over $2,000 but our goal is $36,000 so we have a bit of a ways to go. This year, we did a letter writing campaign where we sent letters to local businesses asking for donations so we're hoping to see something come out of that. And we've got ringers starting at Walmart (yesterday)."
And with the recent overly-aggressive weather and the winter season quickly coming upon us, Swisher said the money is needed now more than ever.
"The need is greater than ever," Swisher said. "Last year we helped 93 families and we know that the need is even greater this year so we're really hoping we can meet our goal," Swisher said.
Anyone interested in volunteering should go to oneidawi.volunteerfirst.org to register or call Swisher at (715) 437-0465.
Marcus Nesemann may be reached at email@example.com.
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